Take a moment to read the story in Genesis 22:1-18
Throughout the Old Testament there are amazing images of New Testament truths. The Cross of Christ is an image that is found many, many times in the OT. The Tree of Life in the Garden of Eden depicts the Cross…whoever eats the fruit of that tree will have eternal life. The “fruit” on the Cross is Jesus Himself. The angel of the Lord places a “mark” (Taw in the ancient Hebrew alphabet) on the foreheads of those who would be spared. That mark (Taw) was a cross (Ezekiel 9). The image of the Cross is found in the story of the Bronze Serpent being lifted up in the wilderness (John 3 and Numbers 21).
In today’s reading from Genesis, we also find the image of the Cross of Christ and His sacrifice. Here is what one Father of the Church had to say:
“As you contemplate the sticks that Isaac was laid upon, reflect on the cross. As you look on the fire, meditate on the love. Look too on the sheep hanged by its two horns on the plant that is called ‘Sabek’. Look too on Christ, the Lamb of God, hanged by his two hands upon a Cross. The plant called Sabek means ‘forgiveness’, for it saved from slaughter the old man’s child. It foreshadows the cross that forgives the world its sins and grants it life. The ram hanging on the Sabek plant mystically redeemed Isaac alone. While the Lamb of God hanged on the cross delivered the world from Death and Hell.” ~St. Ephrem the Syrian
There are many, many more images of the Cross that can be found, but what is the point for our lives today? The early Christians all felt the Cross was a most powerful weapon against evil and a wonderful blessing for the believer. The early Christians made the Sign of the Cross over themselves, not in some superstitious act to ward off vampires as depicted in movies, but in a prayerful and meaningful way.
“In all your travels and movements, in all your coming in and going out, in putting on our shoes, at the bath, at the table, in lighting our candles, in lying down, in sitting down, whatever employment occupies us, we mark our forehead with the sign of the Cross.” ~ Tertullian 145-220 A.D.
St. John Chrysostom told those early Christians of his day that they should not rise from bed without making the Sign of the Cross over themselves and that they should not go to bed each night without making the Sign of the Cross over themselves. It is a most powerful prayer that we can use in our lives anytime throughout each day.
Journeying with you to the empty tomb of Christ…Fr. Stephen